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When Orr started working with Baron in 2007, one colleague warned him the job would be a career-killer. “In the beginning, it wasn’t seen as something that could add value on a scale that Ford could support,” Baron says. “I kept at it, and I guess I just kind of wore the company down.” Baron built the software, pulled together the technology and


gradually carved out more time for her virtual immersion lab, evolving it—ever so incrementally over the ensuing 12 years— from an unsupported side project in an unheated garage to an international endeavor with labs in Dearborn and Melbourne, Australia, and satellite centers in Germany, Mexico, Brazil, India and China. In the meantime, virtual reality hardware has gotten better and easier to wear, and computers and graphics processors have gotten more powerful.


Now designers


and engineers on diff erent


continents—each in a lone offi ce chair in a VR-equipped room—can virtually sit side by side in the same car and examine details as minute as fl ecks in the paint and the


grain of the leather. “It’s quite a transformation,” Baron says. “It’s a wonderful thing


to see. I truly believed in this technology and what it could do for Ford, and I stuck with it when it wasn’t cool. “Now it’s paying dividends for me professionally and for the


company. For me, it’s really great to watch it grow. It went from me trying to get this kernel going to people having a career in the company based on immersive virtualization. That’s what really blows my mind.” 3


Eastern | SPRING 2015 19


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